Home Front Command to release smartphone missile alert app

Application to deliver alerts on missile strikes based on geographical location of user.

March 4, 2014 13:14
2 minute read.

Smartphone.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The IDF Home Front Command will soon release an application allowing smartphone owners to receive emergency alerts based on their location.

The application, called iOref (“oref” is Hebrew for “home front”), will use the GPS location data on smartphones in to deliver alerts and prompt civilians to head for protected zones in the event of missile attacks.

In instances where GPS data is unavailable, the application will use an alternative technique to track the user’s location to within 50 square meter.

If cellphone networks have collapsed, the application will use cell broadcasts from antennas to send messages.

Brig.-Gen. Levi Yitah, head of the Alerts Branch at the Home Front Command, said Israel’s 6 million Internet surfers can soon be linked to realtime warnings and instructions through the application.

The program will also pass on videos, still images and text messages to assist civilians, he added.

After being downloaded, the application will “hibernate” on the smartphone and become activate when needed.

Users will be able to track alerts for three areas in addition to their location, Yitah said, enabling parents to see what is taking place where their children are.

An initial version of the program is due for release in three-and-a-half months. It is scheduled for general release by the end of June, and will later be available for home computers as well.

“I want the alert to reach users in as many places as possible as quickly as possible,” Yitah said.

The application is one of several Home Front Command developments, many of which are designed to enhance area-specific missile alerts.

The Home Front Command is also moving forward with plans to create area-specific missile alerts, based on a projection of the path of incoming projectiles.

“We want to reach a situation where every air raid siren has its own IP [Internet Protocol address], allowing us to activate them selectivity,” a security source told The Jerusalem Post in November. In the future, the Home Front Command plans to take advantage of satellite television receivers (which also have IPs), and regional radio stations, to issue area-specific missile alerts in case of attack.

Under the plan, someone in an area under missile attack who is watching television will see the channel change automatically to a live broadcast from the Home Front Command’s in-house studio.

Currently, a cellphone text message alert system is in place. Longer-term plans include setting up air raid sirens with electronic sensors, such as cameras, enabling them to deliver real-time information to the Home Front Command.

Within two years, the Command will introduce a system to track the location of developments and emergency responders on a digital map in real-time.

The system will join a national radio network already in place, which allows the Home Front Command to communicate directly with emergency services, with the exception of Magen David Adom, which has not yet joined due to funding issues.

The radio network will be expanded, the source said, to include other forces deemed vital in handling emergencies, such as Military Police and the IDF’s Technological and Logistics Directorate.

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